Believe it or not, the U.S. will enter Friday’s match against Costa Rica with its top seven choices at left-back unavailable.
U.S. left-back regulars Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson are both injured. While Michael Parkhurst, Timmy Chandler, Jonathan Spector and Eric Lichaj are all right-footed, all are capable of playing on the left. However, none of them are on the current roster.
Parkhurst has only made one start for Augsburg since his move to the club from Nordsjaelland in December. Lichaj has not played in a league match for Villa in two months, and Spector and Chandler both picked up injuries in their club games this weekend.
Jose Torres, who played left-back for the U.S. last summer, is also injured.
In fact, the only natural left-back on the roster for the Costa Rica match is the San Jose Earthquakes’ Justin Morrow. Morrow’s one international cap came in a fairly unimpressive outing against Canada this past January.
Brek Shea is not the ideal solution, but he is the best option the U.S. has. He can obviously get forward and should be able to provide some service from the flank, particularly if Costa Rica sits back in the game.
Shea is not impressive defensively and can be beat on the dribble, but he does have good recovery speed and can be given some cover on the wing by a player like Eddie Johnson or Herculez Gomez.
Shea has played some defense in the past and was even looked at by some English Premier League teams as a left-back last winter. Shea is also solid in the air.
The U.S.’ only other option on the left is DaMarcus Beasley, who has had a bit of a career resurgence since moving to Liga MX. However, Beasley has repeatedly proved over the past five years that he is no longer the player he was prior to his knee injury in 2007. Despite being given chance after chance under both Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann, Beasley has been unable to be the impact player on the international level he once was.
Furthermore, former manager Bob Bradley already tried the Beasley as a left-back experiment—and it went horribly. Brek Shea is certainly not an ideal solution, but he is the best option the U.S. currently has.